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​Fall/Winter 2003-2004

Rossman Lake Bike Trip  Sept 30/03

The Rossman Lake Area is yet another example of the great cycling opportunities available in Western Manitoba adjacent to Riding Mountain National Park.  Many thanks to Bill and Carol for suggesting, planning, and hosting our cycling group at their beautiful cottage at Rossman Lake.

Two loops were available, one 9 km long and the other 32 km long.  Both followed excellent packed gravel roads with many challenging hills and excellent lookout spots.  We couldn't have asked for better weather.  By noon the skies were mostly clear with a brisk breeze from the east to cool us down.

The group divided into two.  The first four cyclists - Verne, Norma, Aaron and Donna - undertook the shorter 9 km loop, cycling primarily through pasture land lined with many wooded areas providing excellent fall colours.  Upon their return to the cottage, they packed themselves into the van and met the second group for lunch at Cranberry Hill.

The second group, consisting of Bill and Carol, Fred and Jackie,  Kim, Marilyn, Stephen and Mike, rode the long loop.  Again, this is a lovely area to cycle, along smooth, packed gravel roads with little traffic.  Many challenging hills provided excellent vistas along the way.  The fall colours were just starting to come out, and the views from the tops of the hills were breath-taking (or was I just out of breath....).  As promised, the lunch spot was a pleasant surprise!  It was a splendid lookout area, providing views clear into the Birdtail bench area into Riding Mountain National Park.  A walking trail led most of our group down into the Birdtail Valley.  After the steep climb back up, we met the other four cyclists for lunch.  As we proceeded to the cottage, we saw a very large blond bear!  One last long and steep hill challenged us, but we made it, only to almost lose Jackie and Fred down the road.

After a four hour trip, we returned to the cottage, and the hungry cyclists relaxed and prepared for a delicious pot luck supper, which was followed by games and singing around a campfire.

Mike Rossier


Cairn's Cabin Back Pack Trip   October 22-24/03

Another commitment meant that we were unable to go into Cairns Cabin with one of the larger groups.  Wanting to take advantage of the good fall weather, we hiked in on Wednesday.  No problems on the trail, and we were rewarded with sightings of a few bird species, such as Ruffed Grouse, Dark Eyed Juncos, Boreal Chickadees, Red Breasted Nuthatches.  A Pileated Woodpecker graced our sunny spot during lunch.  The second day, we hiked to the junction of the North Escarpment trail (approximately 11 km return from the cabin.)  Beautiful country with the river and views of the gorge and distant hills!  Back at the cabin, a little cleanup was necessary because of ONE mouse!  Our hike out on Friday was a little wet but we were back in Brandon in good time.  On our hike out, we met the next group going in.

Margaret Yorke & Milllie Reid


Cairn's Cabin Part 2

Thursday night at 9:20 pm our Alberta connection, Arnold B, arrived at our cottage to take us up on our offer to spend the night.  We surprised him by shooing him through the bush to Roger W's cabin.  Roger was alone at his cabin and was looking for company.  The next morning we woke to blustery, rainy and  sleet-like weather.  After a big breakfast at Elkhorn Resort in Clear Lake, Sherry G, Arnold B, Roger W, Janis and I were off to the trail head and our hike to Cairn's Cabin.  We pulled out backpack rain covers and put them on our packs as it was still raining, but the rain didn't last very long.  We made a quick stop for lunch at Lick Lake, and discussed whether that was the halfway mark or not.  About 2/3 of the way down (and I DO mean DOWN, as elevation drops about 600 feet from start to cabin), we met Marg and Millie who were on their way out after spending two days in.  They quickly filled us in on their adventures and both parties continued on their journeys.

The scenery was spectacular but we made no wildlife sightings.  The cabin was still warm upon our arrival and it wasn't long before Sherry was into her sleeping bag and snoring.  Sherry had worked a midnight shift and hadn't had any sleep since the day before! This was Sherry's first trip to the cabin.  At 5:45 pm, Fred G arrived and 20 minutes later Eldon arrived all lathered up like a race horse who had just run the Kentucky Derby.  Eldon had worked until 2 pm, driven from Brandon to the park, and hiked in just before dark just as a ferocious snow storm hit. It was a very cosy night in the cabin as the storm raged outside.  The  storm didn't seem to bother Roger, Arnold, Eldon and Fred, who slept outside in their tents and Bivi sacks.  Early the next morning, we all (except Fred and Eldon) left early to hike out in 2 inches of snow.  It was a great day for a hike out as the storm had abated by morning.  We were within 40 minutes of the trail head and parking lot when we met the Wild Beamish gang of eight, who were on their way in for the weekend.

By the way, Lick Lake is only 42% of the way in, and Sherry dropped her Walkman in the creek while crossing it.

Annual Trapping Expedition to Cairn's Cabin    October 25 & 26

We all had a great time on October 25 and 26. Eight people went in to the Cairn's Cabin on the 25th and ten came out. The roads were very slippery on the way up but we all made it to the trail head only half an hour late. It took about 3 1/2 hours to get in on the icy trail dotted with skiffs of snow. We met up with the rowdy bunch that had stayed in the cabin the previous night after we had been on the trail for only 45 minutes. They forgot to sleep in and started early. We all enjoyed many good laughs and such over or "under"  the camp light Eldon brought in. There were many track sightings of bear, wolf, and elk but we never saw anything hairier than Eldon.  Anyway the trip out took Mike and Kelly only two hours but the rest were closer to three hours. They arrived to be greeted by a five-foot snowman at the trail head. For some reason Fred's car tires were packed in with snow and it took him a while to get out. Ok, I confess we thought it was Eldon's car. The group enjoyed a small snowball fight (I won), before finishing off the weekend with a delightful meal at Elkhorn Ranch.   The trapping was considered a success with three(?), I think, mice.  The pre-winter Survival team consisted of Mike B ,  Edward B ,Kelly T , Mike R, Steven S, Judy B & Bert, Marilyn M.  The two that joined us at the cabin and hiked out with us were Fred G and Eldon S.

James Lake Cabin Hike    November 1 - 2

Arthur Au, Eldon Schmitz and the boys (Webster and Romeo), Fred Goods and Jackie Beckta decided to do a over night trip into James Lake Cabin in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park.  Due to some fresh snow and “winter-like” conditions we felt the 16K hike into the cabin could have been skied quite easily (only with your rock skis).  We were quite entertained on route by trying the fitness test near the beach area.  The closer we got to the cabin, it was quite common to hear, “oh it's just around the next bend”.  The evening festivities included a few good games of crib and the supper menu.  After supper we went for a stroll by moonlight we all enjoyed the beauty and quietness of the area.  I think Romeo and Webster had a great time and it was nice to see Webster not so shy in close quarters.  The boys were well behaved and did not seem to mind the extra affection from this dog lover.    We all enjoyed ourselves.

                                                                                                            Jackie Beckta

Katherine Lake Day Ski  November 15

There was a great turn out of 13 people who met at Janis and Alf’s cottage at 9:30am for a day ski to and around Katherine Lake. Before skiing it was potluck breakfast time.  What a feast it was and there was more to come on our return from skiing. Temperature was -3C when we left the cottage but within an hour it had risen to +5c. It was time to re-wax with that dreaded stuff called glister. It was a very beautiful day with sunshine and amazing scenery and we all made it back to the cottage tired but refreshed. Marilyn, who had never cross-country skied before, was gliding along like a pro by this time.  Finishing off the potluck breakfast for lunch completed the day. Janis had made a huge pot of vegetable soup and it was completely consumed by the hungry skiers. Members who took part were Marilyn Markortoff, Kim Smith, Brenda Eamer, Fred Good, Jackie Beckta, Verne Kachkowski, Norma Lennon, Sherri Gates, Mike Rossier, Jane Thornton, Patsy Michels, Janis and Alf Stanley.

            Alf Stanley


Cowan Lake/Whirlpool Lake Day Ski   November 29

The weather was perfect for a day ski when Fred Good, Jackie Beckta, Mike Rossier, Glen Gatin , Sherri Gates, Janis Stanley and Alf Stanley met at Grey Owl trail head parking lot in Riding Mountain National Park at 10am. The first part of the trail was 3.6 k on the Grey Owl Trail up to the warm-up hut. Skiing conditions were not perfect on this stretch as the park’s trail crew had packed the trail, flattening out the previous ski tracks. This was done in preparation for mechanical track making as soon as more snow falls. At the warm up hut we turned off Grey Owl Trail onto the trail that goes to Cowan Lake.  This trail of 3.3 k was in great shape. Marg Yorke and Millie Reid had skied in and out on it two days prior. Not only were the skiing conditions good but also the scenery was spectacular.  From the campground at Cowan Lake, the trail works its way through the thick forest and over rolling hills to Whirlpool Lake. Total distance from trails head was about 11.4k. This trail is very easy skiing to Cowan Lake and only gets slightly tougher because of the hills between there and Whirlpool Lake. Part of the crew decided to back track and ski out the way we had come. The rest decided to take a short cut and ski out to #19 highway 3.3 k where we had left a car. Soup and sandwiches were enthusiastically eaten by a tired group of skiers back at Stanley’s cottage afterwards. This trail will certainly be a favorite to be skied later this season and seasons to come.

WWC Christmas Party  2003

What has become the annual Christmas get-together was held this year at Norma and Verne’s home. Prior to the evening's festivities, members were guided on a short hike starting from the hosts' back yard with Verne leading the expedition. The trail led through hill and dale with even a glimpse of running water from a stream fed by springs. Wildlife encountered consisted of deer & a vole!

The hike was followed by a relaxing time of appetizers & drinks. Everyone's ability was tested for a turkey shoot created by Verne & Norma, with Aaron coming out the winner.

Having done our exercise, it was now time to eat! There was no shortage of delicious food brought by various members with refreshments to help keep the palate moistened.

Our hosts had organized a gift exchange game & everyone had fun taking a present from Alf (or was it the other way around?)

We enjoyed a slide show on Wilderness Club activities during the year as well as a video on Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord in Canada’s Arctic areas.

A very enjoyable time was had by all 34 members. Thank you to our most hospitable hosts!

                                                                              Bill and Carol

Walkinshaw  2004

Twenty-one of us arrived at Walkinshaw Bed and Breakfast on January 23, 2004. The early arrivals (approximately six) were able to get in a ski along the Dunseith trail on Friday afternoon.

Those attending: Marilyn, Jane, Mike, Erika, Roger, Cheryl, Ed ,Linda, Alf, Janis, Judy, Sherry, Carol, Bill, Janet, Eldon, Patsy, Norma, Vern, Jackie and Fred.

Skiing conditions on Saturday were cold (-20+ range) and 18 members made good use of the trails around James Lake in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. Some others honed their snow shoeing skills in the area surrounding Walkinshaw.

Meals consisted of Greek and Italian prepared by the A and B teams--it was delicious! Well done, everyone! (Eldon and Janet gave many a newexperience in the delights of Manitoba Lamb).

Members participated in singsongs (some in key, some not) others completed a difficult jigsaw puzzle and most relaxed in one way or another. There were a nice variety of games that were played in the roomy atmosphere of an old time sitting and dining room.

The hot tub on the frigid deck kept bodies warm and drinks cold and frosty! Some even managed to roll in the -20 snow after the tub experience!. Janet kept resident ponies Breeze and Rocket well fed!

On departure, the weather had deteriorated into a Manitoba winter blizzard and we travelled in a convoy back to the Brandon area.

A super time was had by all and a memorable experience for the Wilderness Club. Thanks to Jackie for all her organizing capabilities. Feb 20

                                                                                                            Bill and Carol

James Lake Overnight Ski/Backpack Trip January 9, 10 & 11

This year's overnight ski trip to James Lake Cabin in the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park was a great success. Twenty-one people turned out to take part. The weather was mild and snow was plentiful.

On Friday Donna, Sherry, Mike R, Verne, Norma, Alf and Janis left the Adam’s Lake parking lot at 2:30 pm and were first in to the cabin to to pick the best sleeping spots and get the fire going. It looked like club members Marg and Millie had been there earlier on in the day on a day ski. There were still live coals in the fire place. Glen and Fred arrived in the evening in the dark. The evening was spent playing cards, eating and story telling.

Glen and Verne opted to sleep outside under the stars. The rest of us almost died of heat exhaustion after Verne filled the stove to the top before heading outside to his sleeping bag. I am not sure if he did this on purpose or not. Saturday morning we all went for a ski on the 8-kilometre loop except Norma. She decided to stay at the cabin and keep the fire going, drink coffee and read her book. Not to bad an idea as she was saving her energy for the ski out in the afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon the rest of the Saturday overnight. night crew -  Eldon, Mike K Jackie, Brent, Maureen and Quinzee Jane - arrived. Kim, Marilyn, Carol and photographer Bill came along for a day ski. At 2pm, the Friday night crew skied out and headed for home except Mike R and Fred who opted to stay for another night (cooler one I hope). As soon as Quinzee Jane arrived she went to work with the help of Brent building a quinzee. Brent had hoped to sleep in it but discovered that he had lost his sleeping bag on the trail somewhere, after he had accused every one of hiding it. I understand he ended up sleeping in the cabin, in what I do not know. What went on Saturday night no one is saying,  but I understand they were a much rowdier crew than the Friday night crew. Needless to say they did not go for a Sunday morning ski before skiing out. Everyone said they had a great weekend and I am sure we will be all back next year.

Snowshow on the Spirit Sands    January 3

Another cold day. But that’s OK because we’ll be sheltered and weather is not an issue with the WMW Club. Right! 

Wrong. Apparently weather was an issue this day and many participants cancelled. All except Aaron and I.  The drive to Spirit sands was quite pleasurable for us. Even the wait for the rest of the party to show up was peaceful until we considered the idea that nobody was coming. We only had to ponder these thoughts momentarily before Eldon appeared, apologizing as he approached. Somewhere in the cold and the cancellations we were misplaced until Eldon realized he hadn’t notified us of the cancellation. We accepted his apologies and returned with him to their house where Eldon, Janet, Aaron, Donna, Webster and Romeo all went for a snowshoe in their back yard. It was a wonderful trail and both Eldon and Janet were excellent guides. Sorry everyone missed it.

           Donna Kulbacki

A Warm Fire and Hot Dogs    January 17

Another breezy cool winter day kept members inside. The plan was to have the wiener roast in Verne’s special place but we soon agreed that Verne & Norma would join us at our home. We went for a refreshing ski from our back yard. Verne enjoyed our “hill” so much he went down it twice. When we returned to the house one hour later we visited over a platter of fruit and vegetables and contemplated whether we would light the fire outside or warm the broiler. The broiler won and we enjoyed a warm gourmet hot dog. An afternoon well spent.

            Donna Kulbacki

Mike's Back Country Ski     January 31

The winds blow, the snow drifts, and Mike meets with his skiing party -  Aaron, Donna  and Bad Collin - on the side of the road by the trailhead. Kappie leads the way as we ski through marsh with cattails poking thru the ice, under spruce boughs, and over beaver dams where we stop and listen for fresh running water. Mike kept us alert with his stories of wolf and elk sightings. Sorry Mike, but we did fall off the trail once and a while, for it was not a groomed trail and the snow was very deep. This was Collin's first ski of the year and he was definitely tired but it was well worth the effort. We enjoyed marvelous scenery and look forward to seeing it again on a sunny day

Cairns Cabin Adventure     February 7 & 8

Ten intrepid skiers braved cold winds on February 7th for the annual Ochre River ski.  Alf and Janice seemed to know something we didn’t as they said goodbye to us after breakfast at the Elkhorn, and headed back to their warm cabin.

Marilyn was bravely attempting the Ochre River trail as only her third ski event, and we glibly assured her it wasn’t that difficult.  Besides, if the hills looked too steep, we could always take our skis off and walk down.

The first big hill took us by surprise, and few of us made it to the bottom on our feet. For the rest of the day, bodies littered the hills, and Mike and Aaron lurked at the bottom of every slope to catch the carnage on camera. We quickly learned never to start down a hill without waiting for an all-clear signal from below. Marilyn was in good company as we demonstrated the many positions the human body, poles, and skis can take as they travel down a hill. 

Eventually, most of us learned when to take our skis off  and walk  (although for Bert, this didn’t happen until he broke a pole). As usual, the cabin was a truly welcome site as we came out of the woods and crossed the last few windy meters.  For Jacquie, this last little jaunt was made especially exciting by the sighting of a wolf!

A moonlit ski was planned for the evening, but even Mike and Fred weren’t willing to brave the icy wind, and we settled down to games of crib and dice, and watched replays of the days spectacular falls on the digital cameras.  

The “slow group” set out early on Sunday morning, a bit apprehensive about the long climb. But it turned out to be a beautiful day and a great ski, and in three hours we were waiting at the cars for the group who stayed to clean the cabin (and pick up all the stuff we (I) left behind.  (Thanks, Eldon).  It was more of a climb, but without the many tumbles we stayed warmer and dryer, and accomplished the trip with much less swearing!

All in all--another great ski trip!  Thanks for organizing, Alf.

Judy Bartell

Day Ski to Grey Owl's Cabin    February 20

Marilyn, Roger B., Howard, Lou, Linda, Roger W, Mike, Robert, Fred, Sherri,  Alf and Janis enjoyed a wonderful day with spring-like weather and great skiing conditions. It was a perfect day to stop along the trail and enjoy nature or visit. One such visit was with members of the Charleswood Ski Club who were at Riding Mountain National Park for the weekend. The lunch stop at Grey Owl's cabin was warm and leisurely. Breakfast at the Elkhorn and past event socializing at Stanley’s cottage completed one more great event with the Westman Wilderness Club.

Cross Country/Downhill Ski    February 14

It was up bright and early on Sat. morning in preparation for the 1.5 hour drive to Assessipi ski hill at Russell. Eldon and Janet had spent the night with the Burridges at their cabin in preparation for the day of activities. With Ed in the co-pilots seat, Alf in the back and Eldon driving, we were off to Russell. We were the only three hardy or should I say foolish souls daring to downhill ski at –32 C. The first few runs down the hill were a bone-chilling experience. After a stop for a hot chocolate, the temperature improved and we had a great day of skiing.

Meanwhile back at the cottage, Linda was leading a group of 20 cross country skiers down a maintenance/compound trail and Katherine Lake Trail in RMNP. As these skiers were in various states of physical condition, some skied the maintenance /compound trail only, and some skied maintenance /compound trail plus Katherine Lake Trail.

Also you can guess who skied both of these trails and made several trips around Katherine. I understand there were a few tumbles and pile ups but no injuries. After a day of physical activity and fresh air, it was back to the Burridge’s cottage for a delicious pot luck supper, a few pops, a dip in the hot tub and an evening of visiting.

Roger & Cheryl's Winter Camp  February 28

We arrived at Roger and Cheryl’s cabin shortly after lunch to find the tent had already been erected. All we had to do was move in but first we went for a ski from their cabin around Lake Katherine and back.  It wasn’t long before we were looking for places to carry our jackets for it was what Aaron & I call a “hot winter day”. Aaron stopped to wax up 3 times before he was able to get a grip but the rest of us found it rather effortless. Alf & Janis joined us for the ski but opted for their own beds after Cheryl made us tea. Roger, Aaron and I collected our supplies and took the short hike to the tent where we made our beds while Roger lit the fire. Once we were settled we took some time to get to know each other a little better, after all we are sleeping together tonight, and discussed some effective parenting techniques. Cheryl brought us out a treat of banana loaf while we waited for our supper to heat on the stove. Fred joined us shortly after dark; he had skied the Agassis trail earlier. We settled into our beds about 9:30 and I for one slept very well. In the morning we ate our cereal, packed up our beds, and returned the tent to the back of Roger’s truck. Thank you Roger.

Donna Kulbacki

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